Friday, February 16, 2001
What are our spending priorities?
Buying land for conservation is still a high priority for town spending, along with, possibly, a new school building, said the discussion group led by former FinCom chairs Lenny Johnson and Beth Hambleton.
If we cannot afford to create everything we need, which facilities or services should get the highest priority for funding, the group had been asked. First, the group was given a "wish list" of needs identified by town departments: affordable housing, a swimming pool, community center, pathways, playing fields, more conservation land, and a public water supply, in addition to the expansion of other municipal facilities (town hall, fire, police and transfer stations) - and estimates of how much each might cost.
How to spend $14 million
The group was asked to decide how they would spend, over the next ten years, a hypothetical purse of $14 million in added debt for land costs and construction, and an added $400,000 in annual operating funds. In effect, the group had been asked to rank in order what services should have highest priority for scarce town funds. But, though members were able to discuss each project and the cost estimates, they were not able to rank the entire list, Johnson reported.
Paths, rec center, pool less critical
Members did agree that the top priorities are additional conservation land and, if enrollment were to rise above 1100, a new school building. Lowest priority for members of the group were pedestrian paths, a community center, and [possibly] a swimming pool, according to Johnson.
However, the priorities the group assigned both to a new school building and a community center depend on enrollment projections, Johnson added. Even though the members recognized that crowding was a problem in the current school, given estimated costs of $12 to $13 million they would not support a separate new building unless enrollment is expected to rise substantially (over 1,100 students), he explained. In addition, members also felt a community center would become more practical if it could be built as part of a new school facility.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito